Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For those of us hosting the dinner, you know what a hole it can put in your food budget. Let’s look at ways you can cut the bill down and still enjoy a festive occasion.
Share the fun and ask guests to contribute to the meal. Suggest guests contribute a side dish, bread, dessert or beverages and save money on food costs.
Chances are people will be more than happy to contribute some holiday meal goodies. Be sure to ask guests what they’ll prepare so you don’t end up with four green bean casseroles.
Check out the circulars from grocery stores. Browse and compare prices to find the best deals. Grocers tend to pick different items to put on special, so you could find a deal on baking essentials at one store and a better deal for side dishes at another.
One store in town often gives a turkey away if you spend a certain amount of money. Another puts other items on sale. Check the circulars to find the best deals.
It’s a basic marketing strategy — grocers offer a low price on one item in hopes you will come in for that item then buy all your groceries there. Just don’t waste the savings on gas. Do your research before you drive.
Now that we are talking about a free turkey, get as big a bird as possible. Ounce for ounce, the bigger turkeys are cheaper. If a 25-pound turkey for a few guests sounds like too many leftovers, plan leftovers for use in other meals. I always buy a big bird and after the meal, slice it and put it in the freezer in meal-sized portions. It’s a ready-made meal handy to use later.
Another premade item you may be tempted to buy is a dessert. No doubt, the price they offer in our stores on basic pumpkin pies is dirt cheap. That’s another way to get you in the store. But if you match that pumpkin pie with a cheesecake, you’ll pay more. This year, bake it yourself.
If you are a novice, buy premade crusts and pie filling. I priced a cherry pie this week at the store at $12, but the pie filling and crust cost $7.50.
Don’t get carried away with the side dishes. Why make so many side dishes when you know there are always leftovers? The turkey tends to be the center of the meal and most people have small portions of the sides. Two to three side dishes of vegetables or casseroles should be more than enough.
Try to gather as many coupons as possible. In addition to looking for coupons printed in newspapers or flyers, look online. There are a lot of coupons you can download, including some you can store in your cell phone that can be used at the register.
Keep it simple. I know how tempting it is to make complicated meals with expensive ingredients to give your guests the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner. But doing this adds money, time and stress to your holiday. Why not keep things simple and enjoy the meal?
If you want to mix things up, volunteer on Thanksgiving. In Fairbanks, we have dinners at the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, Alano Club, Immaculate Conception Church and American Legion. Volunteers are needed to help. Call each location to see where your help is needed. Not only would you skip buying, cooking and cleaning, but you’d get to help others and be reminded how truly blessed your life is.
Volunteering together with friends and family is a great way to be with them while celebrating this day of thanks.
Whatever form your Thanksgiving dinner takes, remember to give thanks for all the bounty in your life.
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner